Fifty shades of the dark middle ages
No, to be honest, the title is a bit tricky: we will give not fifty examples, but much less, but – nevertheless. The middle ages have always attracted musicians – including those whose idea of the middle ages is quite far from reality. But, perhaps, just because of this “medieval music”, including its dark hypostasis, boasts a considerable variety of shades.
It’s funny, but the term “medieval music” is not quite accurate: most often it means either folk, that is, the performance of folk music and the composition of their songs “in the same spirit”, or something like lute music of the Renaissance. The real “medieval music” sounds completely different – it is, for example, Gregorian chants. But we agree that this term is conditional, and then we will remember it in this sense.
Since Skyclad, the founders of folk metal, is on the next page, it is impossible not to start a conversation with another well-known band in this field. In Extremo, of course. In fact it is “Rammstein” with bagpipes, performing folk songs and similar melodies. Like many folk groups of varying degrees of authenticity, they sing in a variety of languages, including the dead – here you and “Herr Mannelig” in Swedish, and “Pavana” in French XVI century. However, with the arrangement, of course, fret: it is enough to compare the two above-mentioned songs with other performances – the benefit of “Herr Mannelig”, for example, who just did not perform. Nevertheless, this group is worthy of attention and can provide a good “point of entry” for those who have not yet encountered more authentic performers.
Speaking of authenticity, if you look for other performers of this Swedish ballad – almost certainly stumble upon Garmarna, an excellent Swedish folk group. Its paradox lies in the fact that while they played folk all sounded very atmophere, attractive and interesting. As soon as they start to include elements of other musical styles – something unique disappeared. However, it is often the case with folk groups this was proved even Clannad, whose first album was already trying to insert rock solos and folk songs, but still tolerable. Later they are spun off, God forgive me, eniya… Reverse example can serve as The Merlons (the group changed its name several times, options include Merlons Lichter, Merlons Of Nehemiah). These experimented recklessly, connecting and heavy guitar, and electronics, but their record has consistently remained an amazing example of balance: for all the modern bells and whistles is not lost the feeling of “volkovoi”, “the middle ages”, even in “acoustic” compositions, pressure and power sound may be the envy of other metalheads.
If the soul requires something completely gloomy, then the ideal choice would be a project with a florid name The moon lay hidden beneath a cloud (“the Moon disappeared behind a cloud”) – their work resembles “medieval” Bergman films, but the creations of the Swedish classic against this background, perhaps, look much more optimistic. This industrial group was perenial recorded sample of the industrial collages of atmospheric goudelock with natural folk and medieval melodies, managing to create a remarkably solid and strong impression. For example, on the first album of the same name there is an anonymous ballad dedicated to Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII and the Latin composition “Flete Flenda perhorrete perhorrenda” from the famous “Carmina Burana”. And the second one can find the business card of the group is extremely beautiful and incredibly dark track “Fire of St. Anthony”, dedicated to the medieval outbreaks of ergotism. By the way: the band basically didn’t give names to their compositions, but if you want to read this – you are welcome, the fourth track from the album “Amara Tanta Tyri”. By the way, the team was not always inspired only by historical events: the text of another composition was the words of witches from “Macbeth”.
Another suitable group for fans of “darker”: the French project Gae Bolg – a kind of industrial theater of medieval music, founded by a musician who had worked with Sol Invictus. It is curious, by the way, that among his favorite authors, the founder of the project Eric Roger numbers Stockhausen and Prokofiev, The Residents and Psychic TV, in the movie Greenway and Monty Python, and in the literature – Eco and Bukovsky. Quite an unusual selection for the lover of all “medieval”. Be that as it may, he has a strange industrial collages, and curious “jokes” like an unusual folk-processing “Imperial March” of “Star wars”, and stunningly beautiful and romantic things like “Sur Les lords De L’ille” from the album “Aucassin Et Nicolette”. Try it – you have to get used to this music and try it, but it’s worth it.
No less curious – but even less known, by the way, – a project called Sedayne. Its Creator himself designs instruments, improvises music, reminiscent of strange bard rituals, so to speak, although the musician himself does not like the definition of “bard”.
In fact, the list of groups, one way or another recreating the “medieval” motifs and melodies, can be almost infinite: we have not mentioned, for example, nor the breakout of folk metal in the spirit of any Cruachan, nor the Celtic folk punks Pogues, nor the occultists Current 93, performing folk songs, and their own works “based on”. But the fact that the music, which sounded maybe a thousand years ago, still inspires and acquires new forms is a fact that cannot be doubted.